Steve Bell on Keir Starmer’s row with Angela Rayner over Labour’s reshuffle – cartoon

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The Guardian > UK Politics Steve Bell on Keir Starmer’s row with Angela Rayner over Labour’s reshuffle – cartoon

UK’s minimum gap for Covid booster jabs to be halved to three months

Vaccines watchdog advises speeding up of vaccination scheme to tackle new coronavirus variantCoronavirus – latest updatesSee all our coronavirus coverageThe UK’s minimum gap for Covid booster jabs will be halved from six months to three, after the government accepted advice from its vaccines watchdog to speed up the programme to limit the spread of the Omicron variant.The health secretary, Sajid Javid, confirmed that all adults would be offered the jab, after the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) announced that the waiting time was being cut for all adults, with priority for booking to be decided by the NHS. Continue reading...

The Guardian > UK Politics UK’s minimum gap for Covid booster jabs to be halved to three months

Cooper, Lammy and Nandy among beneficiaries of Starmer’s ruthless reshuffle

Beefier roles for Cooper and others seem to signal intent to move Labour party further towards political centreToday’s politics news – live updatesKeir Starmer carried out a wholesale overhaul of his shadow cabinet on Monday, bringing Yvette Cooper back on to the frontbench as part of a ruthless shakeup widely viewed at Westminster as accelerating Labour’s shift to the centre under his leadership.Cooper, who served in the last Labour government, will shadow Priti Patel as home secretary, resuming the spiky interactions the pair have had in Cooper’s current role as chair of the home affairs select committee. Continue reading...

The Guardian > UK Politics Cooper, Lammy and Nandy among beneficiaries of Starmer’s ruthless reshuffle

Channel crossings are an English issue, says French minister

UK accused of having a labour market akin to modern slavery that encourages people to make risky crossingsSenior French ministers have accused the UK of operating a labour market akin to slavery and called on London to open safe routes for migrants, as the two governments continued to deflect blame for last week’s drownings in the Channel.The criticism came hours after France’s interior minister, Gérald Darmanin, held a crisis meeting with European ministers and border agencies to discuss the migrant emergency around the Channel ports. Continue reading...

The Guardian > UK Politics Channel crossings are an English issue, says French minister

Ban MPs from working as paid consultants, watchdog suggests

Commons standards committee’s anti-sleaze proposals also include written contracts for outside work MPs should face a complete ban on working as paid consultants and ministers should be more open about any potential conflicts of interest, parliament’s internal standards watchdog has proposed among a series of new anti-sleaze rules.Other recommendations in the report from the Commons standards committee include an obligation for MPs to have a written contract for any outside work, available for inspection if needed, and which would spell out that they cannot lobby on behalf of the employer. Continue reading...

The Guardian > UK Politics Ban MPs from working as paid consultants, watchdog suggests

Closures and soaring waiting lists: crunch time for social care services

‘Red lights are flashing’ warns care boss, in advance of the government’s social care white paperSocial care services across England are “rapidly deteriorating”, with waiting lists soaring and councils struggling with care home closures, social services chiefs have warned.Long-term waiting lists have almost quadrupled and 1.5m hours of necessary home care were not delivered in the three months to November, amid a deepening staffing crisis going into winter. Continue reading...

The Guardian > UK Politics Closures and soaring waiting lists: crunch time for social care services

Victims of sexual violence let down by UK asylum system, report says

Study calls on Home Office to integrate gender and trauma sensitivity into asylum systemVictims of sexual violence face further abuse and trauma as a result of the UK asylum process and are systematically let down by authorities, according to a report.The research found that gender-insensitive and sometimes inhumane asylum interviews, sexual harassment in unstable asylum accommodation and a lack of access to healthcare and psychological support were just some of the factors compounding the trauma of forced migrants in the UK. Continue reading...

The Guardian > UK Politics Victims of sexual violence let down by UK asylum system, report says

English universities risk breaking law over offer withdrawals, say ministers

Regulators push universities to remove oversubscription loopholes after surge in higher A-level gradesUniversities in England risk breaking competition laws if they add loopholes letting them withdraw offers from students at the last minute if courses are oversubscribed, ministers and regulators have told vice-chancellors.For the last two years, the surge in A-level grades allowed more students than forecast to meet their offer targets, and some universities withdrew offers when it became clear that courses would be oversubscribed. Continue reading...

The Guardian > UK Politics English universities risk breaking law over offer withdrawals, say ministers

‘Someone needs a kick up the butt’: Bexley voters consider Tories’ record

Labour is up against a 19,000 majority in Old Bexley and Sidcup, but the byelection comes at a tricky time for Boris JohnsonBoris Johnson’s popularity dip may be such that Tory voters in Old Bexley and Sidcup brand the prime minister a “blithering idiot” and question his qualities as a leader, but Labour still faces an uphill battle to win the seat in Thursday’s byelection.The message Labour’s challenger, Daniel Francis, was selling to waverers who backed the Conservatives in 2019 was that the result was “not going to change the government, but it is a chance to send a message”. Continue reading...

The Guardian > UK Politics ‘Someone needs a kick up the butt’: Bexley voters consider Tories’ record

Labour reshuffle: who’s up and who’s down in Keir Starmer’s shake-up

Key role goes to Yvette Cooper in leader’s radical overhaul of his shadow cabinetYvette Cooper – shadow home secretary Continue reading...

The Guardian > UK Politics Labour reshuffle: who’s up and who’s down in Keir Starmer’s shake-up

Is the NHS in a position to handle the Covid Omicron variant?

Analysis: The health service greets the latest twist in the saga with a mixture of weary self-belief and nervousnessCoronavirus – latest updatesSee all our coronavirus coverageHow much of a threat does the emergence of Omicron pose to the NHS? Among hospital bosses there is a curious combination of apprehension that the new variant could lead to a surge in infections but also a battle-weary belief, born of negotiating the previous waves of Covid-19, that they can handle a potentially major rise in people seriously ill with the disease.“Trusts are already making contingency plans for what would happen if there were to be a significant spread of this variant and it turned out that the symp..

The Guardian > UK Politics Is the NHS in a position to handle the Covid Omicron variant?

The Guardian view on vaccines and Omicron: upping the antibodies | Editorial

The best weapon against the new Covid variant is boosters. But ministers should take aim at misinformation tooIt is by now fairly well known that the most serious cases of Covid-19 in the UK, and other rich countries, are increasingly concentrated among unvaccinated people. Between January and September, there were 34,474 deaths from Covid in England of unvaccinated people aged 10 or over, compared with 4,308 deaths of those who had received two vaccine doses (an alternative set of figures, also published by the Office for National Statistics and based on a different dataset, gives the totals of 40,966 unvaccinated deaths, compared with 5,104 double-vaccinated).The UK Health Security Agency ..

The Guardian > UK Politics The Guardian view on vaccines and Omicron: upping the antibodies | Editorial

The Guardian view on the WTO talks: poor countries can’t be kept poor | Editorial

The trade liberalisation of the 1990s did not lead to higher economic growth rates. This should raise serious concerns for backers of globalisationPutting off the crunch meeting of the ministerial World Trade Organization won’t defer the chronic malfunctions of the world economy. The currency and debt crises experienced by developing nations, the eurozone’s turn to austerity and the great financial crash are symptoms of a broken trading system built on the global role of the dollar. Deeply embedded within the world’s trade and capital regime is a hierarchy where cheap labour goods from developing nations keep rich world wages down. Meanwhile, elites in the developing world run their na..

The Guardian > UK Politics The Guardian view on the WTO talks: poor countries can’t be kept poor | Editorial

There is no ‘solution’ to Channel crossings – there is only a humane response | Polly Toynbee

We must let asylum seekers work and live legally, while striving internationally to resolve the causes of displacementPoliticians need an answer to every problem, even when there isn’t one. Pretending to be omniscient and omnipotent is in the job description – though the result is that public trust leaches away, since some problems don’t have politically acceptable solutions. There is no politically satisfactory answer to asylum seekers arriving in Britain when many voters feel “controlling borders” is the definition of nationhood. So impossibilism rules.Politicians could point to net migration plummeting last year to 34,000, far below David Cameron’s original 100,000 promise; th..

The Guardian > UK Politics There is no ‘solution’ to Channel crossings – there is only a humane response | Polly Toynbee

Johnson insulting France over Channel crossings will only make things worse | Simon Jenkins

The prime minister’s pointlessly macho stance is putting the UK ever more at odds with its closest neighbourFrance’s interior minister, Gérald Darmanin, is a sensitive soul. He dislikes British politicians saying nice things to him in private, then turning round and using “insulting” and “strongly unfriendly” language in the House of Commons and the press. He is particularly upset by his British opposite number, Priti Patel, and her boss, Boris Johnson, doing this on the topic of immigration.We might wonder where the French minister spent his political upbringing to become so innocent of political reality. Yet the substance of Darmanin’s complaint is true. The current cross-Ch..

The Guardian > UK Politics Johnson insulting France over Channel crossings will only make things worse | Simon Jenkins

England’s new Covid measures still leave clinically vulnerable people out in the cold | Frances Ryan

Masks alone are not enough to protect those most at risk. Now millions are wondering how they’ll get through the winterFaux ruffled hair. Solemn tone. Boris Johnson’s emergency address this weekend about the new Omicron variant felt like a return to the old days of the pandemic. The measures announced, though, were hardly significant: for example, introducing mandatory masks in shops and on public transport only brings England in line with what the other home nations have long been doing, and hospitality venues such as pubs and restaurants aren’t included in the new rules.This is far removed from the long discussed “plan B” – including working from home guidance and Covid passpor..

The Guardian > UK Politics England’s new Covid measures still leave clinically vulnerable people out in the cold | Frances Ryan

Sleaze is just a symptom – democratic politics in the UK is dying | Alan Finlayson

As the gap between people and politics grows, government is less interested in the good of society than in rewarding loyaltyAlan Finlayson is professor of political and social theory at the University of East AngliaThough fears of Covid-19 are spiking once again, this seems to be a comforting moment for the Labour party. After a disastrous few weeks for the ruling party, it seems as though politics is returning to “normal”: sleazy Tories are being sleazy, reneging on commitments to the “red wall”, and the opposition is sneaking ahead in the polls. But flashbacks to the mid-90s are, in reality, delusions. What most hurt the Tories then was that sleaze came to symbolise a decaying, pat..

The Guardian > UK Politics Sleaze is just a symptom – democratic politics in the UK is dying | Alan Finlayson

Tory voters in north of England view social care reforms as ‘toxic’ – research

Labour polling reveals funding changes that break Conservative election pledge considered a betrayalConservative voters in the north of England view Boris Johnson’s changes to social care funding as toxic and say his broken pledge on not selling homes to pay for care is a betrayal, according to research seen by the Guardian.The polling and focus group, undertaken for the Labour party, said the changes to social care funding this week found it was “the most powerful broken promise we have tested”, the report found. Continue reading...

The Guardian > UK Politics Tory voters in north of England view social care reforms as ‘toxic’ – research

UK and France playing ‘blame game’ after Channel deaths, say Labour

Shadow foreign secretary Lisa Nandy says joint policies needed to prevent more dying in Channel crossingsThe UK and France are “engaging in a blame game” over people making perilous Channel crossings in small boats, Labour has said, rather than sitting down together to try to work out a way to prevent more deaths.The diplomatic spat between the countries, which saw France disinvite Priti Patel from a meeting of EU ministers in Calais on Sunday, after Boris Johnson tweeted a letter on the issue to Emmanuel Macron before the French president had received it, was “simply unconscionable”, Lisa Nandy said. Continue reading...

The Guardian > UK Politics UK and France playing ‘blame game’ after Channel deaths, say Labour

Can Labour position itself as the party of business?

Analysis: Keir Starmer’s recent CBI speech is part of sustained attempt to prove party can run tight economic shipAs Keir Starmer’s aides tuned into Boris Johnson’s South Tyneside speech to the CBI last Monday, on the alert for any policy details the Labour leader could use for his own speech later that day, they couldn’t believe their luck.The Conservative government’s relationship with business was already scratchy, after two tax-raising budgets, the shelving of plans to overhaul the hated business rates system, and Johnson’s criticism of the haulage industry during the fuel crisis. Continue reading...

The Guardian > UK Politics Can Labour position itself as the party of business?

‘Shocking’ that UK is moving child refugees into hotels

Children’s Society criticises practice of placing unaccompanied minors in hotels with limited careRecord numbers of unaccompanied child asylum seekers who arrived in the UK on small boats are being accommodated in four hotels along England’s south coast, a situation that the Children’s Society has described as “shocking”.About 250 unaccompanied children who arrived in small boats are thought to be accommodated in hotels, which Ofsted said was an unacceptable practice. Continue reading...

The Guardian > UK Politics ‘Shocking’ that UK is moving child refugees into hotels

Fury as Nadine Dorries rejects fellow Tory’s groping claim against PM’s father

Women in Westminster rally to support Tory MP Caroline Nokes after culture secretary’s denialNadine Dorries was embroiled in a row with fellow Tory MP Caroline Nokes this weekend after the culture secretary dismissed her allegations of inappropriate touching against the prime minister’s father.Dorries said she had known Stanley Johnson for 15 years and described him as a gentleman. She rejected Nokes’s claim that he had “smacked her on the backside” at the Conservative party conference in 2003. “I don’t believe it happened,” she said in an interview with the Daily Mail. “It never happened to me. Perhaps there is something wrong with me.” Continue reading...

The Guardian > UK Politics Fury as Nadine Dorries rejects fellow Tory’s groping claim against PM’s father

Another U-turn likely from UK government on care costs bill

Senior Tories told ‘dog’s dinner’ legislation will change to prevent defeat over proposals that would penalise the poorThe government is preparing to drop controversial plans that would force poorer pensioners to pay more for their social care, in order to avert a possible Commons defeat that would further damage Boris Johnson’s authority, the Observer has been told.Senior figures and officials in the House of Lords are understood to have been reassured by the health minister Lord Kamall that the legislation will not return to the Lords in its current form after its committee stage early next year. Continue reading...

The Guardian > UK Politics Another U-turn likely from UK government on care costs bill

Opposition parties ‘can oust Tories’ if they cooperate on seats

New analysis shows that a ‘progressive alliance’ can overturn the Tory majority by fielding unity candidates in 154 English seatsThe Tories would be stripped of their majority and unable to form a government if opposition parties cooperated in fewer than a quarter of England’s parliamentary seats, according to a major new analysis.The study by Best for Britain, which campaigns for a more internationalist government, found that if Labour, the Liberal Democrats and Greens could agree to field one unity candidate in each of only 154 English battleground seats, the Conservatives would end up with just 254 English MPs, seven fewer than Labour, which would have 261 English MPs. The Liberal D..

The Guardian > UK Politics Opposition parties ‘can oust Tories’ if they cooperate on seats

How will post-Covid Britain look? For many, like it did in the brutal 19th century | John Harris

While Boris Johnson talks of ‘building back better’, the reality is growing poverty and hunger – and a government that is fuelling themIn December 2019, Boris Johnson was electioneering in Salisbury, where he visited a butcher’s shop and local military veterans’ centre. The same city is also the home of the Trussell Trust, which runs the UK’s largest network of food banks – and Johnson was asked whether anything in the Conservative party’s manifesto might reduce the need for the kind of help it provides. He answered in the affirmative, claiming that helping people with living costs was a personal “crusade”, paying tribute to “everybody who gets involved with running foo..

The Guardian > UK Politics How will post-Covid Britain look? For many, like it did in the brutal 19th century | John Harris

Water profits surge even as leaks and spills wash away public trust

Pennon’s results may be good next week, but nationalisation ought to be on the cards given the industry’s soiled recordThe last of Britain’s three FTSE-listed water companies is due to report its financial results this week, but there’s little doubt any news on the performance of Pennon will be drowned out by a wider crisis in the industry.Pennon, which owns South West Water and Bournemouth Water, is expected to set out an increase in revenues following a boom in holidaymakers to the West Country over the last year that bolstered water volumes. But beyond the regulated returns a set of troubling, but familiar, issues have welled up for the sector. Continue reading...

The Guardian > UK Politics Water profits surge even as leaks and spills wash away public trust

The Omicron variant reveals the true global danger of ‘vaccine apartheid’

Sharing vaccines with poorer countries is the right thing and the self-interested thing to do. The west needs to stop being so short-sightedMandatory face masks are back in England. The fear factor has returned. After months of assuming the Covid-19 pandemic was all but over, the UK government has imposed new restrictions in an attempt to curb the spread of the new Omicron variant of the coronavirus.Financial markets didn’t wait for the announcement from Downing Street. It is far too early to know how big a threat the new strain poses but investors assumed the worst as soon as the reports arrived from southern Africa. Share prices fell heavily, with airline stocks the hardest hit as travel..

The Guardian > UK Politics The Omicron variant reveals the true global danger of ‘vaccine apartheid’